All entries for Tuesday 21 August 2007
August 21, 2007
In other news, we may have spent a while filling a whiteboard with text, but the project now works! We can generate one million double beta decay events, complete with energies and angular distributions, in a little over a minute (on a 1.86GHz processor).
Today we’re going to tidy the code up a bit and complete all the documentation, then we can turn it into a library and interface with other peoples code, such as the CERN GEANT4 package, which will allow us to track the motion of the particles our program generates, as they pass through various detector materials.
Last week the project was not going so well. We (Sam Smith and I) spent a long time waiting for the computers to do things (compiling, running, debugging) and we had to think about how we could fix the problems we were having. In the time this took, we achieved the masterpiece of "stream of consciousness" art which you see below.
WARNING: NONSENSE FOLLOWS
We should try and cover the board in text - Samuel Smith, August 16th, 2007 (A Thursday, would you believe it?) Is this a dagger I see before me? No, it's a list of compiler errors as long as your arm, with your other arm cut off and attached to the end of it, and your legs cut off and attached in a similar manner. Then, of course, once the compiler errors are all distant, fond memories, you have the fun of dealing with linker errors, commonly held to be far superior in terms of the excitement and satisfaction which can be felt when one terminates such an error. And even then you're not home free. The runtime errors ride in force tonight, the ringwraiths iron clad. To code, or not to code. That is the question. Although it isn't written like one. One what? See that was written as a question. Do you have any idea as to the philosophical implications of the word "that"? That was a question as well. What's worse is asking yourself questions on a whiteboard. Fathom this one: how can a bodyless actor, in a conversation written by an external scribe have an idea about both the philosophical implications of the word "that", and the world as a "whiteboard", or, furthermore, their situation during this conversation about knowing what a bodyless actor can know about both the philosophical implications... I'm going to stop you there, you were getting recursive and that could lead to some serious stack issues. Of course, when one considers the futility of discussing such matters with a whiteboard, it should now be obvious to all but the most clueless observer that we are totally, completely and inescapably stuck, and should probably be thinking seriously about the ways in which we can dissolve the ... ... metaphorical glue which binds us into this state of helplessness and repeated writing on a whiteboard with no consciousness. That said, writing on a whiteboard which did possess the basic characteristics of sentient life would be a rather disturbing activity indeed. Imagine, if you will, a whiteboard that exclaimed "that tickles" every time you wrote on it. Well the whiteboard equivalent of "line.dot.electric shock" would be drawing a set of axes, in an arbitrary coordinate system. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is there any way of knowing? etc. etc. Something about the danger growing and the rowers rowing... and the whiteboard by now would have collapsed into a laughing fit, considering how much we have tickled it in the past moments. Imagine, for a brief moment, a probability distribution function. A Gaussian will do, for now, but something like (T1 + 1)2 (T0 - T1 + 1)2 would also be a good example. Now, try to climb it. That's right, like a mountain, or a particularly probabilistic boulder! That should give you a basic idea of how my dreams have been for the past three nights. If you think that is disturbing, try experiencing it first-hand! Consider, instead, a quantum mechanical whiteboard. Markings could exist only in discrete levels, much like the lines of text on this board. Furthermore, and without doubt a less obvious phenomenon, the interaction between a pure whiteboard state |WB>, and a pure marker state |M> would almost inevitably result in some kind of mixed state, probably with loss of quantum information (although perhaps such a result would be after application of the Eraser operator, such that, given a state <WB|M>, application of the Eraser operator in the form <WB|E|M> = <WB|WB>. An intriguing prospect). Even more disturbing: a whiteboard whose countless reams of potential information, in countless positions, written in countless orientations, displays all possible information that could be written on it at once. If the whiteboard were made out of a suitable material it could exist for hundreds of years, who doesn't love whiteboards? This means that a whiteboard somewhere has likely displayed the solution to the Navier-Stokes equation for such an infinitely small amount of time the world remained stable - the Navier-Stokes equation will bring about the apocalypse. Complete with the one horseman, and three pedestrians. The four hoursemen have probably retired by now anyway, so the apocalypse wouldn't be too bad. Just the end of the world, but no plagues / famine to be seen. The Americans took care of all of War's duties, and as or Death, well He would rather POTTER ABOUT IN HIS GARDEN, doing only those things to a garden that Death could do. I wonder where Blinky went? He is probably chatting to the Camels about the mathematical formulations of quantum gravity. I often talk to camels. It's fun. They have the craziest things to say. And they're rather irritable; must be because of all the sand! Imagine getting sand on a whiteboard... the philosophical implications of whiteboard physics were bad enough, lets not touch on quasi-stable structures on whiteboards that could one day show the solution to the Navier-Stokes equation. But occasionally the stabilities are fun to model! Do Samuels dream o velcro tape? Everything compiles and runs again, but just so that our eternal "fun" is guaranteed, the mode functions appear to be going crazy now! When will it end? Will it end? Is there even an end? Still, it seems faster than the original 13 hours, even now it is generating T2 and cos theta... albeit incorrectly so. I wonder who you are addressing. You're not talking to camels again are you? And who am I addressing? 127.0.0.1 [Oh no, a gap!] that's who. Eat that home. But for now, assume Descartes first conclusions were correct; follow through the logic until you hit the phrase "cogito ergo sum", replace it with the more logically appealing sentence "I think, therefore something is". Thinking does not imply your existence, it implies there exists an unthinking process, with which you can contrast the process of thinking... I think... because I am. But I am not, At least, not the one who started this thought. So maybe I am, or at least I have the thinking process, but I am not Sam, and Sam is, so I think, even though I am not! A stone is, yet it does not think. A mountain is, yet it too does not think. I think, and Sam thinks, and we, too, are. I hereby find there is no statistical correlation between thinking and being, even though I have chosen to test Be => Think, rather than Think => Be. Revision zero, zero hour, zero-day, ground zero, 0+ - 0+ transition. What an interesting concept, that of nothing. How can one possibly imagine nothing when, by its very definition it is something? Such is the futility of all of this - it is time to go now. ======== COMPILING!! (See http://xkcd.com/303/)